Brendan Rodgers Praises Jose Enrique’s Versatility, Pledges to Continue Developing Young Talent


As the Reds prepare to take on a team with parallel aspirations in the Barclays Premier League, manager Brendan Rodgers has explained his plan to ensure Liverpool can compete.

The Reds are currently eight matches unbeaten in the league and could close the gap behind Tottenham Hotspur to one point with a victory at White Hart Lane on Wednesday.

Spurs invested heavily on players during the summer transfer window following their fourth-place finish in 2011-12, but Rodgers insists there are other methods available to produce results.

Asked to elaborate on which of those avenues he will explore, Rodgers pledged the club will maintain a combined policy of investing in the best talent and developing young players.

“We’re looking at a way of working, trying to be different in our way of playing — can we develop young players and bring them through,” the Northern Irishman said.

“It’s never easy as a youngster. You see some of the teams now that have got injuries and have to play young players, and the struggle it can be for them. It’s been like that for a large part of the season for us, but we’ve got on with our work, and the young players that have come into the squad have done fantastic.

“At Liverpool Football Club, you always want to be in for the top players and the top talents. This is a club that will bring those players here. A lot of players want to be in the [UEFA] Champions League so if they want to come here, that’s an area we want to arrive in the coming years. We know we’re not too far away — we’re very close to arriving in that zone. You only need to look at some of the things that have gone against us this season, in terms of goals that were disallowed. If you take those points alone, that would have shot us right up there. But we’re just going to take care of our own game and keep progressing. We know we have the qualities.

“If you go away to rivals and win then it can give you great confidence. Our performance level away from home has got better throughout the season. We know we can go there and win and that’s what we’ll look to do.”

The journey to London comes in the middle of a crucial week for the Reds in the Premier League, and the manager wants his side to now start converting draws into wins.

“It’s a big game against a rival. Tottenham have been up in that top four for the last few seasons and they have built their squad up well over the last four or five years,” continued the 39-year-old.

“It hasn’t just been one transfer window, they’ve done it over five six, seven transfer windows and it’s left them a very strong squad. They obviously lost [Luka] Modric in the summer, but they’ve still got top players. It’s going to be a difficult game but we’ve got a great resilience and commitment at the minute.

“We’re showing that in our league games. Our consistency is starting to really show through. If we can just go that one step further and turn some of these draws into wins, then it can really push us on up the league.”

Rodgers has introduced a new element to his team in recent weeks, with defender Jose Enrique being pushed forward into an attacking role — a move the manager believes suits all parties.

“I think he’s been outstanding and it’s a great credit to him,” he reflected. “He and I spoke earlier on in the season about trying to develop and improve his game. It’s an interesting one because he’s a real threat going forward with his pace and his power. You could see in the last three games how determined he is to get a goal. But you also see his defensive qualities because he’s tracking back. He’s been a real plus for us and it’s great to see because he’s worked very hard.

“It hasn’t been easy for him but I think you’ve seen his commitment. How he’s been working every day, you’re seeing that now on the field.

“I’m delighted for him because he’s good guy and he wants to do well for this club. Jose played in that position early on in his career but since he’s come to this country he’s played more as a full-back. You can see he’s got the qualities to play the role — he is an offensive player who has got great pace and power, can take people on and he’s a real threat when he gets into the final third. He’s comfortable in the position, which is important, and it gives us that great thrust at the top end of the field.”

Liverpool was frustrated by a disallowed goal and the crossbar during a 0-0 draw with Swansea on Sunday, but the manager is confident that the whole team can begin to find the target.

“I’ve always stressed it’s the team — everyone will look to contribute. It’s not been for the want of trying,” said the boss.

“Our efforts on goal and shots on target in the majority of the games have been very high. We are just looking to improve how clinical we can be in those areas. At Swansea we had nine shots on target and didn’t get a goal, but we know that. We just need to continue to work well and find ways to get the solution to that. That’s what we’ll do.”

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